Principals warned against misuse of education grant

School principals at the 123rd Fiji Principals Association Conference in Suva yesterday. Picture: ATU RASEA

SCHOOL principals were reminded they would be held responsible for unaccounted education grants.

Education Ministry director finance Sukhendra Lal stressed this during the Fiji Principals Association Conference at Novotel Suva Lami Bay Convention Centre yesterday.

Mr Lal said the misuse of government education grant was prevalent and became evident after the ministry audited the financial accounts of schools.

He said the ministry was mandated to report to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) office all unaccounted funds irrespective of the dollar value.

He also said the ministry had liaised with its counterparts at FICAC office and FICAC had also given the ministry a guideline of what to report to them and what was within the ambit of the ministry.

“There is a large chunk of schools that we have audited and this is an issue and this would directly fall on to you as the person approving the payment voucher. You would be directly accountable,” Mr Lal said.

Mr Lal also advised the school heads that they must be aware of the financial position of a school before taking up the post as a safeguard.

Meanwhile, the ministry’s deputy secretary Timoci Bure said during the ministry’s visit to schools, there was a trend where those who were directly handling the grants abused it.

Mr Bure told principals that inspection by the ministry found staff members to be incompetent.

“I am saying this because there is a huge amount of money abused by bursars and clerks and some people in your institutions do not know their position description,” he said.

Mr Bure said the majority of the time, the heads of the institutions were not aware of the work of their auxiliary staff members.

“You as the head of the institution, you are accountable for the performance of everyone so we do not like the blame game.”

He reiterated to school heads that they must monitor the performance of their staff members.

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